The Significance of "The Word": "I AM"


Both the Ascended Master Saint Germain and Sathya Sai Baba explain that it is of utmost importance for each one of us to understand the spiritual significance and meaning of the word, "I AM", and to begin using it to achieve Self-Mastery.  In fact, almost all of the Ascended Master Affirmations start with the words: "I AM" - simply because it helps to release the creative power of our own Higher Self - our Atma - our I AM Presence - or as some Mahayana Buddhist say: our Tathagatga-Garba.  Likewise, the members of the Saint Germain Foundation hold the words "I AM" as so precious that they refer to themselves as "I AM Students".


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The following is an excerpt on this subject from a spiritual biography that I'm writing about my spiritual teacher, Pearl Dorris.  I hope you find it helpful and inspiring. - Bill Gaum.  To set the stage, Pearl was about 15 years old, her mom had just died (probably of cancer), and her Dad had sold their Colorado farm.  Then Pearl and her Dad moved out to California to be nearer her brothers and sister (his sons and daughter).


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The “I AM”


Pearl was now in a strange environment, shy, alone, and without a friend.  But soon her father arrived and she began attending Riverside High School.  Her father bought a house and had a garage built for their new car.  Pearl, who was about fifteen by then, began learning to drive the new vehicle.  One day as she was parking the car in the garage, she evidently let up on the clutch before it was out of gear and it jumped forward a bit, hitting the back wall.  When she got out to make sure that there was not any damage, she happened to notice a book sitting on one of the ceiling joists.  This seemed odd to her because the brand new garage did not yet have the usual tools or garage clutter lying around.  Pearl stepped up on the fender and was just able to retrieve the book.  It was titled, Your Forces and How to Use Them, by Christian Larson.  She had never heard of this book and wondered who could have placed it in such an unusual place.


Upon opening the book, Pearl read that the presence of God within us, could be expanded and used by us, when we came to understand the meaning and power of the divine words, “I AM.”  As a spiritually uplifting feeling filled her, she seemed to somehow know that finding this book was no accident.


Going to her father, Pearl asked if he or the workmen had left anything in the garage ceiling.  When he said no, she got the feeling not to mention the book, but instead to quietly keep it to herself.  She continued reading about the “I AM,” pondering the spiritual truths revealed in the newly found volume.  The author explained that the words, “I AM,” refer to the presence of God within each one of us.  And that the “I AM” is our true source and identity.  The seeds of divine wisdom began to germinate within her as she read the following words:


The “I AM” [is] the ruling principle in man, the center and source of individuality, the originator of everything that takes place in man, and that primary something to which all other things in human nature are secondary.3


As she continued reading the book, she discovered that it was important for us to identify with the presence of God, the “I AM” within us, so we can achieve happy divine goals that are both practical and transcendent:


The first step to be taken in this connection, is to recognize the “I AM” in everything you do, and to think always of the “I AM” as being you – the supreme you.  Whenever you think, realize that it is the “I AM” that originated the thought.  Whenever you act, realize that it is the “I AM” that gives initiative to that action, and whenever you think of yourself or try to be conscious of yourself, realize that the “I AM” occupies the throne of your entire field of consciousness.


Another important essential is to affirm silently in your own mind that you are the “I AM,” and as you affirm this statement, or as you simply declare positively, “I AM,” think of the “I AM” as being the ruling principle in your whole world, as being distinct and above and superior to all else in your being, and as being you, yourself, in the highest, largest, and most comprehensive sense.  You thus lift yourself up, so to speak, to the Mountaintop of masterful individuality; you enthrone yourself; you become true to yourself; you place yourself where you belong . . .


You must act, not as a body, not as a personality, not as a mind, but as the “I AM” and the more fully you recognize the lofty position of the “I AM” the greater becomes your power to control and direct all other things that you may possess.4 


Pearl did not realize it at this time, but this “I AM” was the same as that spoken of by Moses in the Bible.  Moses had been looking for some lost sheep in the Sinai Desert when he saw the remarkable sight of a bush that was burning and yet was not being consumed by the fire.  A commanding voice of divine authority spoke from out of the “burning bush” and told Moses to go into Egypt and free his people; the nation of Israel.


Moses replied, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’  Then what shall I tell them?”  (Exodus 3:13, NIV)


And God said unto Moses, “I AM THAT I AM: . . .  say unto the children of Israel, ‘I AM hath sent me unto you.’”  (Exodus 3:14, KJV)


God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, . . . ‘This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.’” (Exodus 3:15, NIV)*


Moses went into Egypt and through a series of miracles finally obtained the release of the Israelites and led them across the Red Sea to the base of Mount Sinai.  After climbing to the mountaintop, Moses received the “Ten Commandments.”  Now it is of the utmost importance to note that the Third Commandment is:


You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.  (Exodus 20:7, NIV)


Only a short time earlier, Moses had been given God’s name when the divine voice spoke to him from the burning bush.  God’s name is “I AM!”


Pearl would eventually learn that often when we feel, think, or say something such as: “I AM a failure;” “I’m no good;” “I AM incapable of achieving this;” “I’m unable to get well;” or “I am unable to overcome this bad habit;” we are actually misusing God’s name.  We are using God’s name “in vain.”  Thus, we are breaking the Third Commandment.  In fact, usually when we use the words “I AM” in a negative or destructive way, we are abusing the name of God.  On the other hand, whenever we use the words “I AM” in a constructive, life-affirming manner, such as “affirming” within our hearts: “I AM a good person;” “I AM the presence of God’s love pouring through me to bless others;” “I’m capable of achieving my divine goals;” or “I AM the presence of God’s healing energy filling my body;” we are using God’s name in a beneficial way.  We are now obeying the Third Commandment.  This is because, instead of “affirming” or “calling forth” a condition of imperfection or limitation in our lives, we are “affirming” and “calling forth” a quality of divine perfection in order to bless ourselves and others.  And, it does not matter which language we speak - the result is the same.  Whether we say, “Je suis” in French; “Ich bin” in German; or use other words in other languages which mean, “I AM”  - if we choose a sacred uplifting consciousness to accompany it, we will be bringing greater happiness into our lives.


Pearl would someday learn that this divine activity of affirming God’s perfection within us, is what Jesus was expressing when he said, “Ask and it will be given to you.” (Matthew 7:7, NIV)  She would eventually realize that the most powerful and effective way of “asking,” is to accept and feel in our hearts our Oneness with GOD and then to ask in God’s name, and God’s name of course is "I AM".  Thus, whenever we think, feel, or say “I AM this,” or “I AM that” or “I AM [anything]” – we begin releasing the power of GOD through us to fulfill it.  And the most effective way of asking in the name of the “Great I AM” is to realize and accept that we are creators made in the “image and likeness of GOD.”5   Therefore, we must use our full divine creative powers of thinking, feeling, and visualizing, in spiritually responsible ways in order to constructively qualify the Divine Energy pouring through us.


Reading further in her newfound book, the extraordinary creative powers of our imagination were revealed:


The imaging faculty is the creative faculty of the mind, the faculty that creates plans, methods, and ideas.  Our imagination therefore must always be clear, lofty, wholesome, and constructive if we would create superior ideas and build for greater things.6


As Pearl applied these teachings in her life, she slowly began to realize the enormous power of our imaginations.  She learned that it is through our imaginations that we shape our lives.  For it is through the activity of our imaginations that we have, in large measure, chosen our feelings, thoughts, visualizations, words, and actions of the past.  And of course these activities have, to a large extent, determined our present circumstances.  Thus, by learning to use our imaginations more constructively she could see that we can create a new, happier life for ourselves.  Consequently, she began to try to consciously choose feelings, thoughts, and attitudes that were loftier and more constructive.  This did not mean that she was free from her share of worries, doubts, challenges, fears, and frustrations in life.  But it did give her a powerful new tool to deal with these more effectively.


In this same way, she began to understand that if we take the attitude, “I AM capable of achieving this;” or “I can do it;” then when opportunities for spiritual growth; or selfless service to others; or any other constructive activities arise in our lives, we will naturally take the higher, more spiritual road.  But, if we take the attitude, “I AM incapable of achieving this;” or “I can’t do it;” then the opportunity may pass by unnoticed or “under-utilized.”  Thus, by choosing positive, confident, constructive feelings and thoughts, she could see that she would more easily and naturally be cooperating with the unfolding divine plan.


As Pearl applied these sacred truths, day by day, she gradually began growing happier and more relaxed.  But, as yet, she did not realize that this new understanding of the “Great I AM” was laying the groundwork for magnificent life-transforming teachings, which she would encounter some thirteen years later.  (Note: These life-transforming teachings would be the Ascended Master Teachings as given in the books of Godfre Ray King.)


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Sai Baba's Teachings on the "I AM"


And later in life Pearl would learn about the great spiritual educator from India, Sathya Sai Baba, and his teachings on the spiritual significance of the words "I AM".  Here is an excerpt from that portion of Pearl's biography:


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"Naturally, Pearl found that Sai Baba’s teachings concerning the words, “I” or “I AM,” mirror those of the Arisen Host.  Some of these teachings are found in the books that contain Sai Baba’s writings, which are referred to as “Vahini”s.  The book on “Divine Love” is known as the Prema Vahini, the one on “Right Action” is known as the Dharma Vahini, and so on.  But only one of them is graced by the title of Sathya Sai Vahini.  And not surprisingly, in the very first chapter,* which is entitled, "This and That", Sai Baba begins sharing some of the essential teachings of these most sacred of all words:


Every living being refers to itself as “I.”  “I AM Rama,” “I AM Krishna,” “I AM Sita,” “I AM Radha.”  Each one assumes the “I” as his own and uses it whenever he has to designate himself.  If only birds, beasts, and other living things could speak, they too would have behaved likewise and referred to themselves as “I.”  Besides these, even mountain peaks, hills, and trees might announce themselves as “I am hill,” . . . “I am tree,” if only they could speak.


When we spend some time thinking over this, it will be clear that some great mystery is embedded in this expression, “I.”  The illiterate [peasant] uses this expression; the sage who has secured the Divine Vision uses it; even GOD, it is said, announces Himself as I.  Nevertheless, who probes into this mystery?  And, among those who have dared probe, how many have succeeded in unraveling it?  And, even if there are a few who have unraveled the mystery, how many among them have used the discovery to transform their lives?  Have the celebrated intellectuals, the Pundits [(Hindu scholars)], the Paramahansas [(great Hindu saints known for their extraordinary wisdom and discernment)] even, succeeded in delving into the meaning and significance of this “I?”




 . . . This expression “I” is clearly omnipresent; . . .  It has unlimited forms and appearances.  Like the string that passes through the rosary beads, it interpenetrates and holds together the names and forms.


 However transient and changing the names and forms might be, the “I” persists without being affected.  Therefore, one has to know this omnipresent “I,” so that one can understand all that has to be known.

 . . .  Really, the word “I” leads you to the Supreme GODHEAD, when you dive into its significance.


 . . .  Remember this: when you identify and recognize the “I,” or arrive at the true answer to the question, “Who AM I?” – you have identified and recognized the entire Cosmos and its mysteries.19 


Baba then gives further hints about the importance of the words “I” or “I AM:”


It may be asked, “What exactly is the urgency to understand the meaning of this ‘I,’ when there is an infinite number of topics which call for study in the Universe? . . . Of what benefit can it be?” . . .

 The expression is simple, of course; but its implications are infinite, and fundamentally satisfying.  This is the reason why all great teachers exhort the seekers, “Know Thyself,” “Inquire into yourself.”  That alone can give you release.20 


In short he says:


“I AM,” refers to the Atma, who is always everywhere . . . Atma is GOD.  You are GOD.  GOD is omnipresent.  This “I” is you.  That “I” is you.  You are All.21 


Pearl would later learn that in the Hindu tradition, they call the part of us that temporarily dwells in the physical body, the “jiva.”  While the individualized I AM Presence, which is located just above the physical body, is called the “Atma.”  And the “Infinite I AM,” the all-pervading Universal GOD Presence, is often referred to as the “Paramatma,” although there are also many other Hindu names for the universal aspect of GOD.  Sai Baba says:


These three – Paramatma, Atma, and I – are only forms and names for the ONE – the Paramatma, the ONE Atma, the Divine Atma.22


Of course it is important to differentiate between the little “I,” which is our ego – our limited, temporary, human personality; and our big “I,” our I AM Presence.  Our egos continually trick us into feeling and thinking that we are separate from GOD, and thereby cause fear and doubt to arise within us, which in turn causes us to become selfish, which then creates all the other problems we experience in life.  Our Divine “I” on the other hand is our true identity, our Divine Reality – our I AM Presence, our Atma – which in India, is also known as the “Eternal Witness.”  Meditating upon and identifying with this Eternal “I,” brings about oneness consciousness, self-mastery, self-realization, inner peace, bliss, and ultimately the Ascension.  In the following quote Sai Baba refers to this distinction between the little “I,” and the big “I:”


Really, there are only two “I’s.”  One is the ego which is always identifying itself as I, and the other “I” is the Eternal Witness . . . 23 


And it is this little “I,” the ego, which he is referring to when he says


The “I,” when crossed out, becomes the symbol of the cross; so what is crucified is the ego . . .  Then the Divine Nature manifests itself unhampered.24 


This gives us new insights into Jesus’ teaching, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me",  (Mt.16:24, NIV)."


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Click here to learn more about our "Higher Self - the 'I AM' Presence".


Click here to discover how the sacred words "I AM are used in Affirmations.


Click here to learn more about Sathya Sai Baba.


If you came to this article from the Affirmations section, then click here to go to the next Affirmation article: More Insights (Affirmations: Part 4)


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Copyright 2014 Bill Gaum All Rights Reserved